Broadband service might expand in Powhatan County
1,559 locations will receive internet access if USDA approves grant
Powhatan County announced Friday an expansion of its broadband partnership with Central Virginia Services Inc. that could provide fiber optic high-speed internet access to 1,559 locations in the western part of the county, if the project receives federal grant funding.
CVSI operates Firefly Fiber Broadband, a subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC), which provides electricity to rural portions of 14 counties in Virginia. Firefly is based in Palmyra and provides internet access to parts of Appomattox, Nelson, Louisa and Fluvanna counties, although it is currently constructing more fiber circuits to other Central Virginia locations, including Albemarle and Buckingham counties.
CVEC won a $2.3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Broadband ReConnect loan and grant combination in February to construct fiber network lines over 704 square miles, including 17,000 homes and several businesses, schools and health care centers in Central Virginia.
In April, Firefly submitted an application for a second-round grant, which would allow the cooperative to invest $7.2 million in connecting Powhatan customers by the end of 2023. If successful, the project would expand fiber optic lines with gigabit-level service to unserved parts of the county. Residents interested in supporting the application can send comments to the USDA.
The USDA announced a second round of funding in December, pledging $200 million in grants, $200 million for 50-50 grant/loan combinations and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. Applications were accepted through April 15, and communities without sufficient access to broadband — defined as less than 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit upstream — were eligible. Awards are announced on a rolling basis.